Governor races

Governor races

Ehrlich to seek rematch

Former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) is set to announce he will face off against Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) again.

WJLA-TV reports that an Ehrlich decision is imminent, with the one-term former governor seeking to avenge a 2006 loss to O'Malley.

Ehrlich is a big get for Republicans in the state, as there didn't seem to be much in the way of an alternative. But the Republican Governors Association's (RGA) gain is is NRSC's loss. Ehrlich earlier this month suggested he was also looking at a possible run against Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.).

That didn't wind up going anywhere, and Republicans aren't expected to seriously contest Mikulski's seat unless it were to become open.


Poizner ad targets 'benefits for illegal immigrants'

Steve Poizner is counting on worries about illegal immigration to gain ground on Meg Whitman in the California Republican primary.

In the wake of a protest march in Washington that drew tens of thousands to the Capitol, the former state insurance commissioner is set to launch an anti-illegal immigration TV ad. The 30-second spot, titled "Liberal Failure," is airing statewide starting Tuesday, according to Poizner's campaign.

"As governor, I will stop taxpayer-funded benefits for illegal immigrants. If necessary, I'll bring it to you as a ballot initiative," Poizner said in the ad, which features what looks like a Buick flying off a cliff.

The consulting firm Stevens & Schriefer Group produced the spot. Last year, the firm gained notoriety for helping Gov. Chris Christie (R) win in New Jersey.


Lazio gets Conservative Party backing

Rick Lazio's gubernatorial bid has been endorsed by New York's Conservative Party.

The party leadership voted 14-5 Saturday on a non-binding resolution to back the former Republican congressman. Chairman Michael Long said the party "will do everything we can to ensure [Lazio's] election this November."

Their move came a day after Suffolk County executive Steve Levy, a Democrat, announced he was running for governor as a Republican.

The backing of the Conservative Party is essential for any non-Democratic candidate to win statewide in New York, but Levy's campaign downplayed the significance of the vote.

"This was merely an unweighted recommendation and has little meaning until a designee is officially chosen at the convention in June,” the campaign said in a statement. "We anticipate major defections, as was the case with the Republican Party."

Lazio was once considered the presumptive Conservative and Republican nominee, but his lackluster fundraising has prompted party leaders to cast around for another candidate. As of January, Lazio had some $640,000 cash on hand while Levy reportedly has banked more than $4.1 million.


Report: Two Georgia gov. candidates have record of 'misconduct' with female students

Georgia's crowded gubernatorial primary field may soon thin out.

Two former educators who are running, a Democrat and a Republican, both had their teaching certificates suspended for misconduct involving female students, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Republican Ray McBerry and Democrat Carl Camon fought the charges against them but their cases remain public record.

While neither man is a leading contender for their party's nod, the developments could still have a bearing on the outcome of the July primaries. That's because with so many candidates running, the campaign is likely to extend into a runoff. In which case, a couple percentage points could make the difference.


S.C. governor's race: It's like 2008 all over again

The 2010 governor’s contest in South Carolina is shaping up to be a proxy war for 2008 GOP presidential candidates.

Mitt Romney’s endorsement of state Rep. Nikki Haley on Tuesday pits his candidate against three hopefuls aligned with other 2008 presidential candidates.

Former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) is backing Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-S.C.), Mike Huckabee is backing Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is a close ally of state Attorney General Henry McMaster.

All four candidates are huddled within about 15 points of each other in most polling on the race, making it a wide-open affair.

Of course, Huckabee and Romney have a little more skin in the game, as South Carolina is a key presidential primary state, and they may have designs on running again in 2012. Among other potential candidates, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) are both backing Barrett.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin have yet to weigh in.


Whitman making leaps in California

Meg Whitman has built a massive lead in the GOP Senate primary, and she also a small edge in the general election, according to a new poll.

The independent Field Poll shows Whitman with a 63-14 over state insurance commissioner Steve Poizner in the primary. In the general election, she leads state Attorney General Jerry Brown 46-43.

Whitman has gained double digits on both Brown and Poizner since the January Field Poll.

A competitive governor's race is good news for GOP efforts to unseat Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), but right now that governor's race is the much more attainable GOP goal.


Indy Mass. governor candidate says healthcare bill will bankrupt country

This doesn't bode well for the Democrats' health care bill.

After watching Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) win a special election by opposing the health care bill, now independent Massachusetts governor candidate Tim Cahill is coming out against it too -- in a very forceful way.

Cahill, the state treasurer who switched from Democrat to independent in advance of his run against Gov. Deval Patrick (D), said Tuesday that the national bill would lead to the same problems his state is experiencing.

"If President Obama and the Democrats repeat the mistakes of the health insurance mandate in Massachusetts on a national level, they will bankrupt this country within four years," Cahill said. "It is time for the President and the Democratic Leadership to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan that does not threaten to wipe out the American economy."
Again, this is Ted Kennedy's home state.


AFL-CIO backs Bernero in Mich. Dem gov. primary

In the latest sign that labor unions are getting involved early in Democratic primaries this cycle, the Michigan AFL-CIO's executive council Friday endorsed Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero (D) for governor, the Detroit Free Press reports.

"We found that rank and file members all across Michigan responded to Virgil's message and Virgil's exuberance," said AFL-CIO president Mark Gaffney. "We look forward to building a winning campaign, with candidate Virgil Bernero, and we look forward to victories in both August and November."

In Thursday's paper, my colleague Kevin Bogardus and I wrote about labor's plans to be more active in Democratic primaries this cycle. "We are taking a new tack. This a new day. We are going to play in the primaries," Gerry McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, told us.

In Michigan, Bernero's main primary opponent, House Speaker Andy Dillon (D), reportedly "angered union leaders when he proposed requiring all public employees to join a single, statewide health insurance system."

The state's primary vote is Aug. 3.


Ohio Dems use Times story to blast Kasich (Updated)

Democrats have been trying to turn former Rep. John Kasich's (R-Ohio) Wall Street experience into a campaign liability – and Friday they got some fresh ammunition.

Kasich spent several years as a managing director in the investment banking division of the now-defunct Lehman Brothers, leaving the company shortly after its collapse in September 2008.

He has cited his experience as a qualification for being governor of Ohio at recent campaign events.

"I worked as banker with Lehman Brothers in a office in Columbus where I chased IPOs," Kasich said at a roundtable discussion on agriculture in Paulding County March 9. "[I] was involved in the initial public offering of Google and Designer Shoe Warehouse, some of you shop there. We were able to raise the capitol to allow them expand and create jobs."

But the New York Times has a story out Friday about a bank examiner's report detailing the dramatic collapse of the 158-year-old company. Kasich isn't mentioned in the Times' piece, but Gov. Ted Strickland's (D) campaign is asking questions about whether he was "aware" of the crippling debt the company was accumulating.

In a memo sent to reporters, Strickland campaign manager Aaron Pickrell asks: "Will Congressman John Kasich reveal the full extent of his work at Lehman Brothers including the companies and deals with which he was involved and the compensation, including bonuses, that he received from his work at the bank?"

A Kasich campaign spokesman responded: "It's the same report that can be written about the state of Ohio, but the big difference is that in the state's case, Ted Strickland has been the executive who's accountable for it all."

From the Times story:

The report, compiled by an examiner for the bank, now bankrupt, hit Wall Street with a thud late Thursday. The 158-year-old company, it concluded, died from multiple causes. Among them were bad mortgage holdings and, less directly, demands by rivals like JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, that the foundering bank post collateral against loans it desperately needed.

The report draws no conclusions as to whether Lehman executives violated securities laws. But it does suggest that enough evidence exists for potential civil claims. Lehman executives are already defendants in civil suits, but have not been charged with any criminal wrongdoing.


Cuomo recuses himself from Paterson investigation

With an eye on his upcoming gubernatorial bid, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) announced Thursday that he will recuse himself from the investigation into Gov. David Paterson's (D) administration, according to the New York Times.

Instead he will appoint Judith Kaye to be an independent counsel to take over the investigation into Paterson's role in a domestic violence case involving a top aide. Kaye will also lead the investigation into how Paterson secured World Series tickets last year.

From the Times:

Mr. Cuomo is poised to formally announce his own bid for governor in the coming weeks, and managing the investigations of Mr. Paterson, a fellow Democrat, had become increasingly complicated.  … It is unclear under what timetable the investigations will now proceed.